Friday 10 November 2023

Sham Castle

The rain stopped for a while, so we took the bus to Bath. Darren's request to me was to find something that we had not seen before.

After a quick flick online I decided on Sham Castle. 

It's a Gothic folly built high up on the hillside overlooking Bath. 

Actually it is just a very fancy wall, and was built by a Bath gentleman in 1762 so that he could see it from his own garden, and brighten up his view. 

He didn't really bother with the back so it is just quite flat. 

This side of the castle is next to the driving range of Bath Golf Course and was very busy when we were there, with lots of shots going off in surprising directions. 

That was the highlight of the day, but the journey there and back was pretty nice too. After getting off the bus we walked along the canal by the big locks that quickly raise it above the level of the town. 

This tall gate was particularly nice with all of the ferns growing on it. 

The canal goes through a very posh area called Sydney Gardens and initially the people living there were not keen on a working canal being built through their estate. 

To keep them happy the canal owner agreed to put in beautiful bridges across the water and also disguise a chimney as a lovely pillar. 

In the garden of Sydney Gardens was another folly, although this time it was more classical Greek. 

We walked back into Bath past the Holburne Museum, which is a gorgeous building at the end of Great Pulteney Street.

I have included this photo because it shows a poster for an exhibition that is currently on at the museum. It's Gwen John and that's the names of my mum and dad, so we need to go and see it next time we are in Bath. 

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Isambard Kingdom Brunel and other things

 We caught the bus to Bristol for a bit of history and culture.

Not sure what these giant ear trumpets are for on this bridge over the River Avon,but they looked nice. 

We followed a path west towards the sea and round a bend to see a first glimpse of the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, in all of its glory.

The first thing to notice is that it is very high, and it is going to take quite an effort to get up to it. In days gone by a funicular style railway used to take people up to the top of the cliff, but that shut in 1930s. All that is left is the sad boarded up front to it. 

Having no choice, we marched up the extremely steep zig zag path nearby and eventually got to the top, which is 74 metres above high tide level.

Interesting facts, the total length of the bridge is 412 metres and it spans a gap of 214 metres. It was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and work on the pillars started in 1831. It then stopped for over 30 years as they ran out of money, but after Brunel died in 1859 it was decided to finish the job as a memorial to him.

It is free to walk across, £1 to drive over and there is a very nice visitor centre all about the Bridge and Mr Brunel at the other end. 

We continued on our way to our next destination, Spike Island, enjoying the views of brightly painted terraces on the opposite bank. 

Just around the corner from this photo we stopped for a rest at a little coffee cart, and sat at the outdoor tables. As we left I asked the barista if she knew where the Banksy graffiti was. If we had turned our chairs around we could have sat and admired it from there!

It is called 'Girl with a pierced eardrum' after the famous Vermeer painting 'Girl with a pearl earring'. In the Banksy art the earring is actually a burglar alarm box. It has been there since 2014 and fortunately has only been slightly damaged.

Finally, we followed the waterfront back round and there is a well preserved railway line and trucks right alongside it.

Friday 27 October 2023


Last port of call. The clocks have gone back so we are back on British Summer Time, but the sun still didn't rise until about 8.15.

We went for a run first thing along the lovely waterfront to a very exotic looking concrete opera house. Think of the one at Sydney, then imagine it quite a lot smaller and you will get the idea.

We didn't remember it at all, but looking back at our photos, we were here in 2016, admired it a lot then and took loads of photos.

Later we went to explore the town.

It is very pretty and much greener than Lanzarote.

Once back on the ship we had time for one final event - a wine flight tasting at the Glasshouse.

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Arrecife, Lanzarote

All aboard in Cadiz at 2am, and we stumbled on just as the captain was ready to set sail. No, maybe I misremembered that and possibly went to bed at 9.30pm as I was a bit tired.

Two sea days have passed since then, and we arrived at Arrecife first thing this morning.

It's another lovely day and the walk from the harbour was very pretty.

The ship's leaflet did not seem to rate Arrecife very highly, and said that it did not hold huge amounts of interest for tourists, but maybe they were just trying to sell their very expensive day trips.

We started with a nice fort out in the bay and a walkway and drawbridge being the only way to reach it.

Not far along the seafront was another causeway that I had noticed on Google earth. It wasn't mentioned in the guidebooks, but was actually the highlight of the day.

Called Islote de la Fermina, it is a swimming and art space area that was designed by the artist Cesar Manrique in the 1970s. It appears to have become run down and is now almost restored.

People were still working on the swimming pool, but we stopped for coffee and a wander around the rest of the island.

Pleased with this success, we then ended up a few streets back from the seafront where it is a bit run down.

Next we passed rows of abandoned salt pans. In the past, massive amounts of salt was needed as Lanzarote was a big fishing port, but fish are now frozen not salted, so they are just gradually decaying away.

Finally, continuing with the Manrique theme, we went to visit another fort that he restored, and came highly recommended.

It is undoubtedly a beautiful building with gorgeous planting around it.

The inside housed a modern art collection, including one from Manrique himself.

No I don't know what it is either.

The guidebook said to allow an hour, but Darren checked the time and we saw it all in eight minutes. We nipped round again in case there was something that we missed, but we couldn't find it.

On the way back to the ship we passed an attractive monument to sailors lost at sea.

It was a nice outing, but I think that we have seen most of Arrecife now.

Sunday 22 October 2023

Day at sea and Cadiz

Dawn is very late here in the Med, and yesterday was a sea day and we were strolling on the promenade deck just as the sun rose at 8.33am.

On every sea day I go to the Fitstep class. It is run by the ships dance troupe and the steps are unbelievably fast. Darren took this photo and for once we all appear to be in time and facing the right direction.

I am the only person dressed in lime green.

Today we have a full day in Cadiz, but the forecast is for 50 mile per hour winds and heavy rain from lunchtime onwards.

Instead, we got up before dawn to run our October half marathon. Cadiz is a very small place that used to be an island, but is now joined to the mainland by a narrow causeway. 

This was our route.

We set off through the town and stopped to look at a row of giant painted skulls in the main square.

The route then went along the seafront where we were joined by lots of other runners, dog walkers and even a few surfers.

Not in this picture though.

We ran right past the end of the town and on to the causeway. It was blowing a gale straight onto our faces and I suggested turning back. Darren was having non of it though, and actually we ended up on a nice wooden walkway, and a much easier return.

You can see the rain clouds gathering and it was a wet run back.

Just having a lazy afternoon on board, and the captain has delayed our departure until 4am tomorrow morning to avoid the storm. It's all aboard at 2am so we have plenty of time later to go out clubbing.

Friday 20 October 2023


We arrived at Malaga and our ship spent the day in the very glamorous port area.

This is the outside of the Pompidou Centre, and we had a quick peep inside, decided that it wasn't for us and carried on in to town.

We passed by a 200 million dollar super yacht, owned by a business man from Kazakhstan, that is spending the winter in the harbour, and along a covered walkway.

Our destination was the train station and we spent a total of just over six euros to journey along the coast to Benalmadena.

We then spent a happy few hours wandering back along the boardwalk.

Yet again we were lucky with the weather and joined the crowds eating ice cream and soaking up the sun.

Another sea day tomorrow and we will be passing Gibraltar and out of the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. I think that we may see a big change in the weather and the sea.